STATEHOUSE – Area legislators encourage Hoosiers who may be struggling to make ends meet and needing food assistance to turn to the state’s recently launched Operation Food program for help.

Indiana’s community kitchens, pantries and food banks saw a 154% increase in visits since the onset of COVID-19, according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) said throughout the public health crisis and during the state’s ongoing recovery, many families need access to food and local programs are trying to keep up with the demand.

“Food pantries provide a much-needed service to the community, and some looking for help may not know what options are available,” Frye said. “Operation Food pulls together resources and gets the word out so families know where to turn and don’t go hungry.”

Indiana’s food distribution network is made up of 12 food banks, and nearly 1,750 pantries and community kitchens. To help pool resources and meet the need, State Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) said FSSA’s Operation Food connects the network to hunger relief organizations, like Indy Hunger Network and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, along with the Indiana State Health Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

“No Hoosier should ever go hungry,” Saunders said. “I encourage those in need to seek help through this available resource, which can also be used to make donations to organizations working to feed those in our community.”

Hoosiers can visit in.gov/fssa and click on “Food Assistance Availability Map” to find help nearby. According to State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville), the map includes pantries, meal sites with packed food ready to take home and eat, and school sites feeding students throughout the summer. Information is also provided on how to make a donation to local food banks as Indiana continues to recover from the health crisis.

“Helping others in need is a big part of what makes Hoosier hospitality so special,” Ziemke said. “We have so many food pantries because Hoosiers want to help their neighbors. If we can connect people looking for resources to Operation Food, we can ensure they do not go hungry.”

Ziemke said Hoosiers can also call 211 to connect to additional resources and programs, including help with housing, utilities and summer food service options for children.

Frye represents House District 67, which includes all of Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Dearborn, Decatur, Jefferson, Jennings and Ripley counties.

Saunders represents House District 54, which includes Henry County and portions of Rush and Wayne counties.

Ziemke represents House District 55, which includes all of Fayette County and portions of Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.

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